Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers affected by dam meet with government officials



Villagers affected by dam meet with government officials

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A view of the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam construction site in Stung Treng province in 2016. The dam is scheduled to start generating power by the end of this year. Photo supplied

Villagers affected by dam meet with government officials

Villagers from Stung Treng whose homes stand to be flooded by the Lower Sesan II dam met with representatives of the Ministry of Mines and Energy at an NGO Forum-sponsored meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday, in hopes of establishing a dialogue towards a long-awaited compromise.

One observer, however, said the meeting was fruitless, and faulted the government for failing to offer any new alternatives to the holdouts.

Nong Sareth, the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s deputy director of hydro-electricity, said that four villages, or 846 households, in Sesan district will be flooded as a result of the dam project. Of these households, Sareth said, 126 – or 13 percent – have not accepted compensation.

According to Sareth, compensation for each household includes one 80-square-metre house with 1,000 square metres of land, plus 5 hectares of farm land and a stipend of 20 kilograms of rice per month for one year.

Sareth said the dam will operate its first turbine in November 2017. Seven other turbines will go into operation in 2018, ultimately generating 400 megawatts of power.

But villagers remain reluctant to go. Nath Sota, an ethnic Lao villager from Sesan district’s Sre Kor village, said she wants the government to allow her and other villagers to stay on their ancestral land.

Moreover, she said her current location enables her to make a living growing crops and fishing. “I feel sorrow for my farmland, my ancestors’ tombs . . . [Even] if we would be flooded, we still want to live here,” said Sota.

Srey Libi, a villager who already accepted compensation and moved to a location 10 kilometres from the hydro dam, said that villagers who relocated found themselves lacking roads and clean water.

He added that villagers who moved no longer have work and requested that the government continue providing them with rice for five years.

Sareth responded that he would report the villagers’ concerns to his ministry and that he intends to maintain dialogue with those who did not accept compensation. He was steadfast, however, that they could not go on living in their villages, because flood waters could rise as high as 3 or 4 metres.

Bun Leap, a coordinator of 3s Rivers Protection Network (3SPN) who attended the meeting, said that yesterday’s discussion was not fruitful as the ministry did not offer the villagers any new solutions, such as allowing them to stay in four “safe” locations they have identified closer to their original homes.

“We will keep advocating the ministry to consider whether villagers can be allowed to move to that place once the flood comes.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in